The Federal Bureau of Investigation
The agency now known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was founded in 1908 when Attorney General Charles J. Bonaparte appointed an unnamed force of Special Agents to be the investigative force of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Prior to that time, DOJ borrowed Agents from the U.S. Secret Service to investigate violations of federal criminal laws within its jurisdiction.
By order of Attorney General George W. Wickersham, the Special Agent force was named the Bureau of Investigation in 1909. Following a series of changes in name, the Federal Bureau of Investigation officially received its present title in 1935.
During the early period of the FBI's history, its Agents investigated violations of some of the comparatively few existing federal criminal violations, such as bankruptcy, frauds, antitrust crime, and neutrality violations. The first major expansion of the Bureau's jurisdiction came in 1910 when the Mann Act ("White Slave") was passed. It provided a tool by which the federal government could investigate criminals who evaded state laws but had no other federal violations. During World War I, the Bureau was given responsibility for espionage, sabotage, sedition, and draft violations. Passage of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act in 1919 further broadened the Bureau's jurisdiction.
The Gangster Era began after passage of Prohibition in 1920. A number of highly visible criminals engaged in kidnapping and bank robbery, which were not federal crimes at that time. This changed in 1932 with passage of a federal kidnapping statute. In 1934, many additional federal criminal statutes were passed, and Congress gave Special Agents the authority to make arrests and to carry firearms.
The FBI's size and jurisdiction during World War II increased greatly and included intelligence matters in South America. With the end of that war and the advent of the Atomic Age, the FBI began conducting background security investigations for the White House and other government agencies, as well as probes into internal security matters for the Executive Branch.
Civil rights violations and organized crime became major concerns of the FBI in the 1960's, as did counterterrorism, white-collar crime, drugs, and violent crimes during 1970's and 1980's.
The 1990's brought even more investigative responsibilities to the Bureau--like computer crimes, health care fraud, economic espionage, and threats from weapons of mass destruction.
The FBI is the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice. Title 28, United States Code, Section 533, which authorizes the Attorney General to "appoint officials to detect...crimes against the United States," and other federal statutes give the FBI the authority and responsibility to investigate specific crimes. At present, the FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes.
The Bureau is also...